Lives of Girls and Women
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Ryerson
Publication date: 1971
Pages: 254 pp.
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The short story cycle develops into the authentic Bildungsroman in which the author has meticulously linked autobiographical elements and a detailed description of growing up and living in the Canadian province of the 1950s It deals with the drama of female emancipation, with different ways to live life – in marriage, family, relationship, or beyond, in work, progress, creation; or distorted, in an attempt to reconcile the internal / private and external / public world.
Growth and maturation; the penetration of a new way of life and ideas into the poor patriarchal provincial milieu; adaptation, not fitting into the local culture; the coexistence of the multi-confessional community; male-female relations, sexuality; gender stereotypes; relationship between young people and their parents; marriage, marriage and love problems; emotional, mental and physical abuse of the young people; fear of bondage, love and marriage; questions of life and death, religiosity and agnosticism, God and eternal life ...
Most of the plot takes place in the Canadian town Jubilee. The stories come from the perspective of the main character Del Jordan and we follow her upbringing and development, from her childhood to leaving home for university. As a litlle girl she lived with her family on her father's fox-breeding farm near a town in Ontario. Del lives everyday life with her energetic mother Ada, introvert father Tom and younger brother Owen. While Del's father has completely adapted to the life in the province, her emancipated mother is struggling with a sleepy town seeking intellectual comfort in selling encyclopedias. Del moves to a nearby town with her mother, to continue her education. There she meets her best friend Naomi and goes along with all that is related to the growing up of a young girl. Munro naturally and easily detects the complex layers that make up the world of girls, from youthful love, relationships with parents and friends, school, intellectual interests, books, entertainment, interest in sexuality, first love experiences as well as unpleasant experiences, losing friendship, disappointment , maturity temptations ...
Del's mother believes in knowledge, despises self-righteousness, writes letters to local newspapers, and is emancipated in a certain way: she is separated from her husband, she is open in some matters, but in sexuality she is pretty much . It condemns surface, fun, ignores body, all that attracts girls. Del explores herself and seeks answers by visiting various ecclesiastical communities. Del's friend Naomi goes through a typical female transformation, from an independent high school student to a socially desirable female role, terminating her studies and marrying because of pregnancy before shereaches twenty. In the background, Munro creates a wide gallery of male characters - Del's father, her brother, an educated and witty friend, manly but primitive and violent fiancée, corrupted lover of her mom's friend and others. With her nonconformist mother, who advises her to uncompromisingly enter into life, Del refuses the protective relationship trying to find her own way.
Why is the story appropriate for the targeted groups of RSP readers?
The novel is suitable for the target group of readers, slightly more for older ones. The chosen text reflects the interests of the target group because it is closely related to the issue of growing up, self-centered conflict and adaptation attempts, the themes like female-male relationships, love, the relationship between children and parents, students and teachers, religiousness and agnosticism, particular fanaticism and exclusivity in both cases . Although the novel is set in the 1950's, it reflects the current political and historical moment in Europe and in the world when rigid and dangerous ideas and ideologies that confuse young people, disorient them and add confusion to their ideology are being revived. It also promotes the idea of understanding cultural diversity, the idea of ecumenism in the multiconfessional community. From the conducted survey it is evident that students usually choose the topics dealing with growing up and maturing, relationships with friends and parents, and choosing the way of life.
The text is also suitable for its form: short stories united in the romanesque unity. It is available in English original and in excellent Croatian translation. It is also adapted as TV drama and feature film.
What are the distinguished readers interests reflected by this book/story?
Young readers will develop critical attitude towards different social challenges and issues, understanding the needs and attitudes of others, they will recognize themselves in close and timely issues contemplating personal intellectual and emotional experiences. They will critically reflect on gender stereotypes that, according to scientific studies, can increase the risk of developing depression or suicide and violence in adolescents. Gender stereotypes about women's passivity may encourage harassment. It is a great risk for young girls who may drop out of school, suffer bodily or sexual violence, get married too early and have a baby, get infected by HIV, etc. Young boys are encouraged to spend more time outside their home without supervision in order to explore the world. Boys are exposed to stereotypes that they must be physically powerful and independent, and this can lead them to become violent and consume drugs. Equally in open and conservative societies, children and young people quickly adopt the myths that girls are vulnerable, and the boys are powerful and independent.
Why is this story motivational for the pupils?
Students can recognize themselves in familiar situations, think about their maturity, positive and negative experiences in their own environment, differencies and similarities, how to personally solve the doubts of the main heroine and her peers, and the questions of personal emancipation. They are also offered additional motivation to watch the movie or TV adaptation. The story can also be motivational for parents if they are involved in the teaching process and co-operation with the school.
Is there a historical, political, multi/inter cultural, migrant or similar context recognized in this book/story?
The novel clearly recognizes the ever-present socio-historical context of the problem of multiconfessionalism and the sharp and persistent conflict of religious, ideological nature, nowadays very popular on the national and world level. It is also about social, historical-political and cultural differences. There is also a topic of great migration of small-town population to cities in the 20th century for employment, education and promotion.
Is there a principle of inclusion reflected in this book/story and does it promotes understanding of cultural diversities and heritage?
The novel promotes understanding of cultural and confessional differences and heritage, appreciation and support of social, generational, national and other differences.